Warning: Do not save your vlog for your last blog post. You will have the flu and it will also be due the night of Greek sing. Somehow, you will get first at Greek Sing despite having the flu and will film this video at 11:40 pm. No, I do not know why it’s sideways but I’ve spent 20 minutes trying to fix it and it’s about time to submit. You will still have the flu, so you will go to bed as soon as this finished uploading.
This source looks at the different way male YA-dystopian characters care for the people around them. New-age YA dystopias show masculine gender performance in a caring role as opposed to the arrogant fighters typical of other media. The characters form a “care circle” of whom the male will care for. This “care circle” is different than the more common “justice perspective” which is a more masculine trait that is concerned with the greater good. The men in YA dystopia don’t exhibit the traits of hyper-masculinity so often seen in other literature. This source examines how gender roles compare between YA dystopia and other genres. This comparison will be important when looking at literature intended for different age groups. It gives plenty of examples of different male characters in YA dystopia, how they interact, and what the effect is on the reader. One thing to remember when reading this source is that it only looks at YA dystopia so it will be important to make sure that other sources are looking at literature/media that is aimed at both younger and older audiences. This source seems really credible. I didn’t detect any bias in the author’s voice, Reading Psychology is reputable, and it’s very up to date, being written last year. The source uses lots of textual evidence to support its claim, and is great to use to find parts of novels that have examples of the “care circle” being cared for. It moves through each facet of the relationship between a male character and his care circle, examining how the care circle is created, and the different relationships between the male and everyone he helps care for. The projects that I saw in the conference presentations that would directly benefit from using this source include Fatma’s, Matthew’s, and Teresa’s.
When beginning this exploration into possible research topics, I looked at recurring themes and ideas in YA dystopian fiction. Rebellion, privacy, individuality, fear/torture, and power are all themes commonly observed in YA dystopias. Another aspect shared by many of the most popular YA dystopian novels/movies is a strong female protagonist. That got me thinking about what roles female characters fulfill in genres outside of YA. The first piece of research I did was of the highest grossing films of 2016 (because I knew it would provide a good general idea of the most popular stories being shared in the world today, and also because I knew the odds were high that I had seen them and could therefore judge the roles of their female characters). The only ones that had strong female characters (the definition of a “strong female character” is coming soon – sit tight) were Rogue One:A Star Wars Story and Zootopia (the former coming in 10th, the latter coming in 3rd: Source). Zooptopia is most certainly aimed at a young audience, and Rogue One, while aimed at a more overarching audience, is also marketed to people that fall into the “Young Adult” category as well. This made me think – how does the intended audience of a work affect the extent to which strong female characters are showcased?
I think the definition of a strong female character goes beyond “any girl appearing in a movie that passes the Bechdel Test”. To me, they need to have their own goals and achieve those goals on their own accord.
Examining films marketed to children, I started with Disney, because of the $11.1 billion made by the film industry in 2016, $7 billion of it was made by Disney alone. The defining characteristic of Disney is the Disney Princess. It seems to me that if the defining characteristic of the most important film studio in children’s media is strong female characters, I may have a lead to go on towards answering my question.
This question also seems fitting because it allows me to look at the genre of dystopian YA through its most relatable aspect – its characters. These characters will be comparable to characters outside of dystopian works as well, which will drastically open up my choices of literature to look at, as well as make the dystopian works even more distinct.
In The Hunger Games (film), a propaganda film version of the “Treaty of Treason” described in the book is shown before the reaping that sends Katniss and Peeta into the 74th Hunger Games. It uses a variety of rhetorical techniques to convey its point, which is to remind the districts of the Capitol’s version of Panem’s history, as well as explain the Capitol-District relationship to the viewer.
The clip begins by evoking an emotion of discomfort and uneasiness, utilizing human skulls embedded in mud in the rain, and men in hazmat suits reminiscent of Chernobyl, standing behind flames and ruin. The uneasy mood quickly shifts to sympathy, as the narrator (President Snow) says “widows, orphans, a motherless child.” He places blame on the districts for starting the uprising that causes these gloomy circumstances. “13 districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them” is an example of asyndeton. This rhetorical device creates the illusion that Snow’s list is longer than it really is (making it seem like the Capitol did more for the districts than it really did) as well as making each list item more impactful, giving the actions a unique emphasis. As the video progresses further into the uprising period of Panem, the scenes become shorter and shorter, which makes the viewer more and more frantic and uneasy. Finally, after showing the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb, it is quickly replaced with a peaceful, billowing wheat field. The contrast between atomic bomb and quiet field (followed by a toddler running into its parent’s arms) makes the peace that follows the rebellion seem that much better and hard-fought in comparison to the death and destruction we were shown only a second ago.
Taking a step back out of Panem and looking at how the real audience interacts with this propaganda, it’s easy to see that the filmmakers intentionally made it poorly. The narration is cheesy, the transitions are reminiscent of educational history videos shown on rolling TVs in an elementary school classroom near you, and it looks like it was directed by a History Channel docuseries filmmaker. If we are supposed to identify with citizens of the districts, Gary Ross’s directing combined with Tom Stern’s cinematography succeeds in displaying how out of touch the Capitol is with the districts. Capitol citizens would eat up false drama and theatrical scenes, but the people of the districts couldn’t care less about the cheap tricks. It doesn’t look like too much money or effort was put into the video, which is reminiscent of how much money and effort the Capitol spends on the districts.
Looking at this video clip from perspectives both inside and outside the world of Panem allows two completely different analyses, both of which say something different about dystopias and how characters and readers/viewers interact with them. Using real-world film techniques to show the Capitol-District relationship is an example of how filmmakers shove as much information from the book into a 2-hour movie time slot.
A setting of systematic disparities and restrictions; typically exists in the future or in fictional places.
It’s difficult to concretely categorize the settings of novels/movies as dystopias, because how each citizen of that society is affected by society as a whole is unique. Take the citizens of Panem (the fictional setting for The Hunger Games), for example. If you asked a Capitol resident whether or not they lived in a dystopian society, the answer would be “no”. Everyone they come into contact with seems to be well taken care of, and all seem to be living comfortable lives. However, if you ask a citizen of the districts, their answer would be much different. Because of this reason, I use the term “systematic disparity” to describe a dystopia – not everyone must be suffering in order for their society to be considered a dystopia. Another aspect that is often associated with a dystopia is the use of futuristic technology in order to reinforce the society’s status quo. It is because of this aspect that dystopias are often combined with the science fiction genre, creating dystopian science fiction. Dystopias often exist in the future, so it would make sense for new technology to have been developed in the time between now and the story’s time period.
To me, what differentiates between the genres of “dystopian literature” and “dystopian science fiction” is how prevalent that futuristic technology is in the story. Science fiction focuses on the technology and its use, while standard dystopian fiction may include it but not make it an important factor. Star Wars, for example, isn’t often touted as a dystopia, yet it shares many elements of a regular dystopia. This leads me to classify it as dystopian science fiction.
Combining dystopia with the YA genre results in more relatable storylines. The YA genre is so popular because it isn’t limited to one age group; people of all ages can relate and enjoy the stories told in an easy-to-read YA format. Everyone over the typical age cap of the YA genre can relate to these YA storylines because they were young adults at one point in their lives as well. By utilizing universal experiences and feelings (whether it’s a first love, sibling relations, or competitions with others), YA dystopias make their more outlandish settings and problems more common and relatable. Because of this, they can reach a larger audience and have a bigger impact on the world. Utopian literature/media is made better because of its close association to the YA genre.